However, it is irrational and ignoble to renounce the acquisition of what we want for fear of losing it; for on this principle a man cannot be gratified by the possession of wealth, or honor, or wisdom, for fear he may be deprived of them. Indeed, even virtue, the most valuable and pleasing possession in the world, is often banished by sickness and drugs. And Thales himself, though unmarried, was nevertheless not wholly free from apprehension, unless he also avoided having friends, or relations, or country.
On the contrary, he had a son by his own adoption, as we are told, Cybisthus, his sister's son. For the soul has in itself a capacity for affection, and loves just as naturally as it perceives, understands, and remembers. It clothes itself in this capacity, and attaches itself to those who are not akin to it, and just as if it were a house or an estate that lacks lawful heirs, this craving for affection is entered and occupied by alien and illegitimate children, or retainers, who, along with love for them, inspire anxiety and fear in their behalf.
So that you will find men of a somewhat rugged nature who argue against marriage and the begetting of children, and then, when children of their servants, or offspring of their concubines fall sick and die, these same men are racked with sorrow and lament abjectly. Some, too, at the death even of dogs and horses, have been plunged into shameful and intolerable grief. But others have borne the loss of noble sons without terrible sorrow or unworthy conduct, and have conformed the rest of their lives to the dictates of reason.
For it is weakness, not kindness, that brings men into endless pains and terrors when they are not trained by reason to endure the assaults of fortune. Such men do not even enjoy what they long for when they get it, but are filled with continual pangs, tremors, and struggles by the fear of future loss. However, we must be fortified not by poverty against deprivation of worldly goods, nor by friendlessness against loss of friends, nor by childlessness against death of children, but by reason against all adversities. This, under present circumstances, is more than enough on this head.